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Vienna keeps cycling focus

Vienna’s cycling network is set to become bigger.

Greens Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou said yesterday (Weds) the city’s government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and her party agreed about expanding several already existing cycling paths. She said the 24 individual projects would be carried out throughout this year and extend cycling strips by 20 kilometres (km) to almost 1,220 km.

Vassilakou – who became the capital’s urban planning councillor after the city hall elections of 2010 – decided to focus on cycling lanes along the Ringstraße boulevard in the city’s central Innere Stadt district where "gaps" will soon be closed. The constructions will ensure better circumstances to cover distances in the heart of the city by bike, the Greens Vienna chairwoman promised.

Another key aspect of the vice mayor’s extension concept are suburban areas like Donaustadt district. "I want to increase the share of cycling in traffic to 10 per cent by 2015," Vassilakou – whose party strongly promotes Bike City housing projects created for people who cycle a lot – said.

Cycling claimed a share of six per cent among all kinds of individual traffic in Vienna in 2009, twice as much as in 1993. The number of people preferring to walk short but also longer distances dropped by one per cent to 27 per cent at the same time, according to research.

The Austrian Traffic Club (VCÖ) recently claimed that there were more and more pedestrians in Vienna nowadays. The club appealed to the city coalition to do more for them. It suggested the broadening of sidewalks and more traffic-free streets as a reaction to the current "renaissance of walking".

The number of cars in Vienna has risen over the years – but not as strongly as the city’s population. Residents of the capital owned around 543,000 vehicles in 1990. The figure increased to 663,900 in 2009 when there were 394 registered cars per 1,000 Viennese citizens. The relative number of cars remained unchanged to this day while the populace of Vienna soared to 1.7 million.

The eastern province of Burgenland has the highest density of cars (616) among Austria’s nine provinces. Vienna comes last in this concern while the federal average is 537, according to VCÖ research. It has to be seen whether the steady increase of petrol prices will influence these data.

Drivers had to pay 0.72 Euros for one litre of diesel petrol in 2002, according to car club Arbö. The organisation said that the same amount of the fuel of this kind had risen to 1.42 Euros in the past 10 years. Prices for other sorts of car fuel developed similarly, according to the influential association. Now all eyes are on Austrian petrol station managers as they had implemented significant price hikes ahead of Easter in each of the past few years.

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